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SL1We’ve heard the demographic numbers before and the clever slogans that foreshadow the impending “age wave,” “graying of America,” and “silver tsunami.” The plethora of conversation about seniors in America may seem like a lot to some, but the facts are tough to ignore. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2060, the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double to 92 million people. These trends in aging and longer life expectancy are fueling a massive expansion of the senior living sector. Whether independent living, assisted living, memory care, or nursing homes, there is a great deal of potential to reach this rapidly growing market.

In this newest blog series, we’ll take a look at the senior living industry and three key target audiences: adult children, residents, and grandkids. By exploring these audiences we’ll highlight how to reach them and why sales and marketing efforts should be geared to them. We begin with the adult children. They’re often perceived as making the decisions in terms of senior living choices and there is some truth to that perception. How you reach adult children has evolved in recent years, especially as the manner in which we communicate changed. Increasingly, they search online for senior living communities, which means that a community’s digital presence matters, including websites, search engine optimization, and social media. Online reviews are becoming more important as well. A 2014 report from Caring.com found that feedback from customers was ranked as the best information about senior living communities. Thus, having a robust online review presence will be critical as potential customers look to previous reviews as a guide (this is especially true for adult children who use the internet and social media frequently as they are comfortable relying on reviews from third party sites).

Although the manner in which you reach the adult children of potential residents varies, the reasons they are such an important target audience does not. We’ve highlighted four such reasons to tailor components of your marketing and sales campaigns to adult children:

  • Care Seekers: More often than not, the adult children and/or loved ones of a potential resident are as a catalyst for a senior living search. They often begin the process and an ALFA Update notes that nearly 75% of care seekers are adult children. These adult children tend to conduct a great deal of research online before they contact a community directly or through a third party referral source. Getting in front of them early is key.
  • Care Givers: On an anecdotal basis, many senior living professionals know that adult children may serve as the primary care giver for their parent/loved one before exploring senior living options. In fact, NPR reports that roughly 10 million adult children are caring for aging parents. As this role becomes too difficult, they will often lead the search for a senior living community.
  • Decision Makers: In many cases, adult children will play a key role in the decision making process. In terms of independent and assisted living, it’s unlikely they will make a decision unilaterally, but they will be have a key voice. This is especially true for potential residents who have memory care issues and/or need more extensive daily care and are relying on their loved ones.
  • Future Residents: Navigating the senior living search process is not an easy task, but it leaves lasting memories. The experiences an adult child has performing this search will even influence their decisions when they prepare for a senior living transition. A 2012 study in Senior Housing and Care Journal found that 74% of respondents reported that their loved one’s experience influenced their  future living options. Ensuring a positive experience now can be immediate and future dividends.

It’s important to remember, though, that we’re not just talking about numbers; we’re dealing with people. The most successful senior living providers will understand that they must offer a stellar quality of care and be compassionate in order to attract new residents. It all comes down to people. Speaking of those residents, they often play a major role in senior living decisions and we’ll explore them as an audience next time.